The hilarious irony of being Republican

Faiz has come up with COMEDY GOLD over at ThinkProgress:

Larry Craig and David Vitter — “two United States Senators implicated in extramarital sexual activity” — have named themselves as co-sponsors of S. J. RES. 43, the Marriage Protection Amendment. If passed, the bill would amend the Constitution to declare that marriage “shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.”

Wow. You just can’t make this stuff up! Heh.

Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), who was arrested June 11, 2007 on charges of lewd conduct in a Minneapolis airport terminal, and Vitter (R-LA) was identified as a client of a prostitution firm owned by the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, commonly known as The DC Madam.

Yes, Tappy McWideStance and DiaperMan Vitter, two of the biggest offenders to the concept of the sanctity of marriage, are co-sponsoring a bill to protect marriage.

Please post your irony inspired humor here. I need a laugh. 😆

UPDATE: Leftside Annie (on TP) has provided the list of the other co-sponsors of this bill. As she calls them, the usual Batshit Crazy Brigade.

Co-sponsors [as of 2008-06-26]

Sen. Wayne Allard [R-CO]
Sen. Samuel Brownback [R-KS]
Sen. Larry Craig [R-ID]
Sen. James Inhofe [R-OK]
Sen. Pat Roberts [R-KS]
Sen. Richard Shelby [R-AL]
Sen. John Thune [R-SD]
Sen. David Vitter [R-LA]

Conditions Precedent to a Revolution

Before an armed insurrection takes place, three conditions must exist:

1. Socio-economic conditions of the masses must decline to the point substantial numbers must resort to violence just to meet subsistance needs.

2. There must be no hope that the political system is capable of addressing grievances.

3. There must be some hope that armed insurrection will achieve some measure of relief.

The nature of manunkind is such that those in power will naturally seek to accomplish #1. As more and more wealth is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, living conditions for the masses must of necessity decline.

Those in power, in order to remain in power, must maintain at least the illusion that the political system addresses the grievances of the masses.

Failing that, those in power must maintain at least the illusion that armed insurrection has no hope of success.

However, the greater the success in accumulating wealth, the greater the despair of the masses. The more the masses are repressed, the less likely they are to preceive that the political system is addressing their needs. Therefore, in order to maintain power, while maintaining the illusion that the political system is working, those in power must also lay the foundation for the inevitable collapse of hope in the political system. At that point, power is maintained solely by preventing any hope of improvement in the conditions of the masses. Thus repressive regimes are born.

We are in a unique position of witnessing the birth of a repressive regime in our lifetime.

Friday Math Problem

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Stephanie and Fabian are going by bicycle to visit their grandparents. They start simultaneously, from the same spot covering the same distance. Fabian goes 28.5 km/h, gets slower after 24 minutes and can only reach a velocity of 18 km/h for the remainder of the distance. Stephanie continuously goes 24 km/h and arrives at the same time as Fabian.

a) How many meters is Stephanie running behind Fabian after 24 minutes into the trip?

b) How many meters/minute is Stephanie closing in on Fabian during the second part of the trip?

c) What is the distance they covered?

Have fun! Results will be coming.

G I Bill heads to the White House

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This morning I received an email thanking me for participating in the process that eventually will turn Webb’s G I Bill into law. Over the last few years, there has been a lot of bad news for military personnel and veterans coming out of Washington DC (as well as bad news for everyone else but the wealthy) and I am very happy that this bill has gotten through Congress and apparently will be signed into law. Of course, we all know that it’s only being approved because it’s included in a military appropriations bill that the White House needs, and that otherwise Bush and McBush would have quashed it, as they have lobbied against it. Kudos to Jim Webb and to all the veterans organizations that worked so hard for this bill.

This morning’s email from VoteVets:

Dear Supporter,

Yesterday, I represented at a press conference with leaders in the Senate, before the body passed the bipartisan GI Bill for the 21st Century.  It was an honor to be there, but I wasn’t just representing my fellow veterans, I was representing each and every one of you.

30,000 petition signatures.  Tens of thousands of letters to Capitol Hill.  Thousands and thousands of letters to the editor. Donations that allowed us to air national TV ads on the bill.  That’s what you did to help pass this bill, in the name of, and that’s why I was invited to stand with Senators as the bill was brought up for consideration.

More importantly, your work made passage of the bill a reality.

Now, the bill will go to the President’s desk, and he has signaled he will sign it.  It wasn’t so long ago that the President had threatened to veto the legislation, with Senators like John McCain backing him up on that decision.  The President’s reversal can also be attributed to just how much you worked to pass this bill.  The President and those in his party know that there could be nothing more unpopular than vetoing increased education benefits for those who serve in war, in a time of war.

That’s why I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.  What you have done is make the American dream possible for so many of us.   Many of us who couldn’t afford college will now be able to.  We’ll go on to become doctors and lawyers and teachers, and have the chance to raise families in the American middle class.  It was a promise made to us by Franklin Roosevelt, and your work has restored that promise.

You are truly patriots, in every sense of the word.


Brian McGough
Iraq and Afghanistan War Veteran

Hello from Europe – It’s summer and hot

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Hello from Europe, we finally have the kind of weather I love best. It’s warm with a slight breeze of fresh air, differently from the tropical weather of recent days. Germany will meet Spain on Sunday night for the European Football Championship finals in Vienna, and if Spain plays as they did against Russia (3:0) and Germany as they did against Turkey (3:2), the Germans should consider to save themselves the trouble of even traveling there. I am hoping for an exciting match, never mind the outcome.

Weather is an important clue to the press round-up. There are very bad news indeed for the North Pole, as reported by The Independent:

It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.

The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one of the most dramatic – and worrying – examples of the impact of global warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90 degrees north may well have melted away by the summer.

And the next paragraph left me open-mouthed:

If it happens, it raises the prospect of the Arctic nations being able to exploit the valuable oil and mineral deposits below these a bed which have until now been impossible to extract because of the thick sea ice above. (full story here)

After having shamelessly exploited and recklessly burnt up the resources of oil we have already available to the detriment of the planet and future generations and thus caused the kind of crisis reported here, this thought is most cynical.

So much for the weather. There is an election upcoming in the US. Of course, this is again making stories, too.

The Times can’t leave Clinton alone:

Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, wrote out a $4,600 cheque for his vanquished rival, Hillary Clinton, last night as he tried to persuade her major financial backers to switch their support to him. (full story)

They too consider this tidbit news and Cindy McCain saying in a Times interview Diana was her inspiration.

The Guardian‘s Michael Tomasky is trying to explain Barack Obama’s shift to the center and concludes:

I’ve always objected to setting up principle as a value that’s oppositional to winning. To me, winning is a principle. It’s the highest principle there is. If you win the election, you can do at least some of the good things that will improve people’s lives in the country and around the world. If you lose it, you can’t do any of them.

People will naturally disagree on which compromises are necessary and which ones aren’t. What people shouldn’t disagree on is that some are. The man’s not running for president of Hyde Park. (read full comment)

I tend to agree with Michael Tomasky. Moreover, Obama’s obviously very political actions are a relief to me. I have voiced the opinion here before that the Obama primary campaign had many hallmarks of a political movement. As a German, aware of her country’s history, I am deeply mistrusting when it comes to political movements. I’d rather have the calculated and thus calculable outcome of a political process. I can live with not getting my way. The kind of trouble mostly ideologically based policies get you into, can be fully viewed by replaying the last eight years of Bush policies.

The Telegraph has an entertaining article, if you care to take part in it. In the UK there is a thing called 11-plus exam. This is and was used to determine access to grammar schools in Britain.  So if you have the time or the boss is not watching, enjoy! The Zoo’s next Friday Math Problem will be coming up today, too.

I hope you’ll all have a good day, stay safe and healthy!

Why Not Trust the Oil Companies?

Photo of tanker oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

In 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground Bligh Reef. Eleven million gallons of crude oil spilled into the pristine waters of Prince William Sound on the southern coast of Alaska. At the same time politicians are trying to convince us that we need to give more contracts to the oil companies so they can drill more offshore and in pristine areas of Alaska, the Supreme Court reduced punitive damages to Exxon by 90%.

From Greg Palast:

Exxon knew this would happen. Right after the spill, I was brought to Alaska by the Natives whose Prince William Sound islands, livelihoods, and their food source was contaminated by Exxon crude. My assignment: to investigate oil company frauds that led to to the disaster. There were plenty.

But before we brought charges, the Natives hoped to settle with the oil company, to receive just enough compensation to buy some boats and rebuild their island villages to withstand what would be a decade of trying to survive in a polluted ecological death zone.
n San Diego, I met with Exxon’s US production chief, Otto Harrison, who said, “Admit it; the oil spill’s the best thing to happen” to the Natives.

His company offered the Natives pennies on the dollar. The oil men added a cruel threat: take it or leave it and wait twenty years to get even the pennies. Exxon is immortal – but Natives die.

And they did. A third of the Native fishermen and seal hunters I worked with are dead. Now their families will collect one tenth of their award, two decades too late.

In today’s ruling, Supreme Court Justice David Souter wrote that Exxon’s recklessness was ”profitless” – so the company shouldn’t have to pay punitive damages. Profitless, Mr. Souter? Exxon and its oil shipping partners saved billions – BILLIONS – by operating for sixteen years without the oil spill safety equipment they promised, in writing, under oath and by contract.

And while Exxon blamed the disaster on one drunken captain, Palast tells how the oil company systematically failed to follow promised safety measures they had promised, and through negligence and fraud caused this disaster. Greg Palast writes about the promises made and broken to the natives, and how Exxon knew they would never be held accountable for their misdeeds.

Read more on this by Greg Palast.

Say “Goodbye” to the 4th Amendment

It can now be violated with impunity. All one needs is a “get out of jail free” card from the President.

Senate nears end of debate over surveillance bill
By PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer
6 minutes ago

The Senate signaled an end Wednesday to months of rancorous debate over surveillance legislation that would protect from civil lawsuits the telecommunications companies that helped the government wiretap American lines.

By an 80-15 vote, the Senate turned back a last-ditch effort to kill the bill, setting up a vote to approve the measure on Thursday.

If anyone can get the roll-call vote, please post it here.

UPDATE: Here’s the roll call vote.

15 Senators voted to uphold the Constitution:

Biden (D-DE)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Dodd (D-CT)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Wyden (D-OR)

Five didn’t bother:

Byrd (D-WV) — understandable absence, health issues
Clinton (D-NY) — no excuse
Kennedy (D-MA) — understandable absence, health issues
McCain (R-AZ) — no excuse
Obama (D-IL) — no excuse

Those who voted against the Fourth Amendment, the Constitution, and our freedoms need to be replaced.


The larger possible consequences of impeachment being “off the table.”

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When Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House in 2006, one of the first things out of her mouth was “impeachment is off the table.” With this sentence she betrayed the American people and her oath of office. But that’s only scratching the surface of the problem…

We have witnessed a staggering abuse of power by President Bush. Even former Bush Justice Department officials now charge him with trampling the Constitution. Bush has claimed the prerogative to declare an endless war without congressional approval, to designate someone an enemy without cause, to proceed to wiretap them without warrant, arrest or kidnap them at will, jail them without a hearing, hold them indefinitely, interrogate them intensively (read torture), bring them to trial outside the U.S. court system. He claims that executive privilege exempts his aides – even the aides of his aides and his vice president’s aides – from congressional investigation. He claims the right to amend or negate congressional laws with a statement upon signing them. And much more.

The possible consequences of Pelosi’s colossal failure…

According to the leading case on presidential powers, if Bush’s extreme assertions of power are not challenged by the Congress, they end up not simply creating new law, they could end up rewriting the Constitution itself. Inaction can alter the Constitutional division of powers by establishing the president’s claims as authority that the Congress or the courts may not infringe. (Emphasis added)

Read that again.

Yeah, you read it right…

Continue reading